Until recently I used the arriva M-Ticketing app on my phone. This handy little application would let you buy tickets on your movile and then you could simply show the bus driver the phone screen when getting on the bus. In exchange you would save 10% over the cost of buying the same 4-weekly ticket on the bus in paper form.
Sounds good, doesn’t it! This is what technology should be doing. Making our lives easier and driving down the cost of doing business? Perhaps it’s telling then that I have gone back to using a paper ticket, kept in my wallet. Why? Becuase being left stranded when the app decides to break isn’t much fun.
Let’s go back to November 2013 when I first used the app. I downloaded it, registered and purchased my first ticket. It wasn’t the slickest of apps, but at least it worked. Then they updated it. Now, it needed a data connection to verify tickets, which could take a significant amount of time, especially when trying to get onto a bus in the rain. The button to make a ticket purchase also stopped responding. You pressed it a few times, exited, and when you relaunched the app, your ticket may have appeared.
The last ‘update’ is what did it for me though. After updating itself, the app now asked me for my PIN, but wouldn’t take the correct PIN when supplied. The lovely support lady tried resseting my PIN for me – to no avail. Then she suggested reinstalling it, which stopped it starting completely. I then got a refund for the remainder of the ticket, and when to buy a ‘Plusbus’ ticket instead. (More on that in a minute.)
So where did the problem occur, and why? Well, it’s probably not my phone. Judging by the 1000+ one-star reviews on Google Play anyway. So, perhaps it’s an Android problem – this fragmentation that everybody loves to talk about? Err, no. Even in Apple’s manicured IOS app garden, the M-Ticket app still has shocking reviews. Once can only conclude therefore that the problem is down to a lack of testing.
The level of testing an app undergoes should be proportional to the value of the app. If, like this, the app requires a financial investment and a failure of the app can leave people stranded at the roadside, then it requires proper testing. This means it should be tested on a range of devices and OS versions. It looks like that didn’t happen here though, and as a result, they’ve lost a customer forever.
Now, a bit about PlusBus. If, like me, you commute to work on the train, then you can add a local bus pass onto your ticket. For my area at least, this actually works out cheaper than buying the ticket from Arriva, and it can be used on any of the local bus services.